Reproductive health matters at all stages of our lives. It begins before adolescence with sexual health education and continues beyond the years of reproduction with post-reproductive services. Reproductive health is important for all individuals, couples and families in Ireland, with most women and men needing support from reproductive services at some time in their lives.
Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. It combines people’s ability to have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to bear children.
NWCI advocates for the provision of comprehensive reproductive and sexual health services that are designed around the lives of women and girls.
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A model for reproductive healthcare includes:
|Relationship and sexual health education||Relationship and sexual education programmes in school
Consent programmes for young people and public information campaigns
|Affordable and accessible contraception||Access to contraception, including long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) and emergency contraception|
|Reproductive and sexual health services||Specialist treatment for reproductive diseases
Screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV
|Comprehensive pregnancy care, including abortion when needed||Pre-conceptual care, including fertility treatment
Maternity care, ante and post-natal care
Abortion and abortion after-care
|Reproductive cancer care||Vaccination, screening and treatment|
|Menopause services||Supports and treatments as women transition through menopause
Support and advice around fertility and contraception during perimenopause
Like all health services, reproductive health services should be based on a number of key principles:
- Private: The confidentiality between the doctor and the patient must be protected. All decisions should be private, personal and confidential.
- Accessible: Care options should be publicly funded and available to all through the public health system.
- Comprehensive: Services should provide for all reproductive health needs of women and girls.
- High quality: Services must comply with best medical practice, standards and safeguards.
- Adequately funded: Services should receive appropriate funding that ensures timely access.
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